By David Gearey / asbpremiership.co.nz
NAPIER - There is no denying Stu Jacobs has a winning habit whenever he visits Park Island - even if he is unaware of his own astonishing success.
The new YoungHeart Manawatu coach notched three wins and a draw in four visits to Napier with Team Wellington, suggesting that maybe Stu Jacobs knows a little bit more about the famous Park Island than perhaps others have yet to discover.
Jacobs said: “I’m not really a stats person so I did not realise that was the case. But Matt Chandler has recruited very well over the off season."
"I would suggest this Hawke’s Bay squad is one of the strongest for some time, so achieving any result at Park Island this season will be extremely challenging”
After losing 16 players from last year’s squad, Jacobs return to Palmerston North has been far from straightforward with the former All White electing for a local approach.
“I am very pleased where the squad is at currently. We have brought in a couple of new players, but the squad has a local flavour to it. We have been working reasonably hard physically and we are also trying to bed in a new playing system. I am positive in time this will all come together.” Jacobs said.
A 4-0 opening day loss to Canterbury has not dampened Manawatu spirits. Indeed, Jacobs' opponents are themselves hurting from a 3-0 loss to defending champions Waitakere a fortnight ago.
Youngster Danny Wilson is adamant Hawke's Bay will be in derby mode for the visit of Manawatu.
“Although it’s not ideal to start the season with a loss, I don’t really think its been a disappointing start to the season," Wilson said, "We’ve had an excellent pre-season and we were beaten away from home by the reigning champions. With YoungHeart Manawatu being our first home game I’m sure the boys will be fired up for it”.
Wilson has only had a handful of starts at ASB Premiership level but after a very successful winter season with Napier City Rovers he could be one of the Bay's best signings this season.
Wilson's partnership with the evergreen Bill Robertson was honed over the winter months and the pair aim to continue in similar fashion.
Wilson said: “Last year was my first full year at centre back, it has been very important to play along side someone as experienced and quality as Bill. I’ve learned a lot of my positioning just by mirroring his, and he is a very organised defender that has helped with my discipline."
It's clear Robertson's no-nonsense approach has been clearly messaged to Wilson and his team-mates.
"If I’m too slow at getting the defensive line up, I know I'll get a constructive earful of advice,” Wilson joked.
In another twist of fate, YoungHeart Manawatu midfielder Pita Rabo - an ASB Chatham Cup winner over the winter with Wairarapa United - could line up opposite his former team-mate Adam Cowan.
Cowan will make his 123rd ASB Premiership career appearance against a side he skippered last season.
The action gets underway at Park Island on Sunday at 2pm.
Hawke's Bay United
The good news for coach Matt CHANDLER is the availability of Milos NIKOLIC. Matt GOULD is drafted as cover for Shaun PETA while Hamish WATSON is also included in the squad.
Coach Stu JACOBS adds Pita RABO and Barry LEWIS to the match day squad.
Experienced goalkeeper Richard GILLESPIE has a medial ligament injury and joins Chris GREATHOLDER on the sidelines.
Seule SOROMON unavailable and Pablo MOYA suspended after his red card against Canterbury United in round one.
Adam COWAN makes his 123rd ASB Premiership career appearance against the team he once captained.
Fiji international Pita RABO will make his ASB Premiership debut for YoungHeart Manawatu. RABO could line up against his ASB Chatham Cup-winning team-mate, Adam COWAN.
Hawke’s Bay United completed the ‘double’ over their provincial neighbours last season with 2-1 and 1-0 wins over Manawatu. Remarkably, last season’s 2-1 victory was only Hawke’s Bay’s second ever home win over Manawatu, the first a 4-3 victory back in 2004.
YoungHeart’s last derby victory over Hawke’s Bay was a 1-0 success when Suele SOROMON netted a second half winner at Memorial Park in 2009.
Hawke's Bay United
26- Shaun PETA (GK)
1- Rhyss KEANE (GK)
2- Fergus NEIL
2- Nobu ISHI
3- Alex BARLOW
3- Josh CHETTLEBURGH
5- Bill ROBERTSON (c)
4- Jamie O'CONNOR
6- Stephen HINDMARSH
5- Alan KEDDIE
7- Matt HASTINGS
6- Matt KENNEDY
8- Adam COWAN
7- Pita RABO
9- Milos NIKOLIC
8- Nathan COOKSLEY
10- Sam MARGETTS
10- Joachim RANDE
11- Connor TINNION
11- Cory CHETTLEBURGH (c)
12- Adam CHANDLER
12- Jimmy HAIDAKIS
13- Luke CHAPMAN
16- Michael FRASER
14- Danny WILSON
17- Jordan MARTENS
17- Tom BISS
18- Barry LEWIS
18- Hamish WATSON
19- Matt BORREN (GK)
19- Chris McIVOR
25- Jono STEELE
21- Josh MARGETTS
30- Matt GOULD (GK)